Public Service Announcement: All photographed food tasted divine and resulted in no illnesses.
Fear sucks. My greatest travel fear sucks even more.
Okay, I’ve debated posting about this topic for a few weeks now, but resisted temptation. First of all, I wasn’t sure whether or not my greatest travel fear teetered into “too emo territory.” We devour travel blogs for inspirational nourishment and not angst calories, right?
I went back and forth, wondering if my unfounded fears belonged within the lined pages of a personal diary rather than Blond Wayfarer.com.
Sigh. Remember the days of livejournal? For those of you who don’t know, livejournal exclusively hosted my teenage self’s rants and drama. Ahh, the internet was a simpler, smaller place in those days. I blew my fuse all the time, haha.
However, BlogHouse taught me authenticity is essential (more about that amazing conference later!) for making a blog “great” rather than “good.” When I reveal my vulnerable side, I’m being true to myself, true to my website, and true to you folks: my wonderful audience.
With that all said and done…
As you know, my brain acts like a Shakespearean fool in all sorts of situations. Boarding a plane, trapped in a metal tube speeding a million miles per hour over the Atlantic Ocean, makes me want to run screaming into the night.
Unfortunately my anxiety isn’t only limited to planes. Nah, too easy. My control issues hide in sneaky pockets and rear their ugly “naysaying” heads in the oddest places, for the oddest reasons.
I’m a hypochondriac. My fixations? Cancer and food poisoning.
Let me explain.
Ever since a former co-worker unexpectedly succumbed to bile duct cancer, I’ve worried about rare diseases striking me and my family when we least expect them to fester and grow inside our bodies. My poor co-worker thought his stomach problems were simple acid reflex, not stage iv cancer. So I can pinpoint my “cancer problem” on a map.
But my whole “food will make you sick” fascination? Uh, I have no idea where the hell that comes from.
In my life, I’ve only experienced food poisoning twice:
- when I ate an egg salad sandwich that had been in the car trunk for two days (NEVER A GOOD IDEA, GUYS)
- when I threw caution to the winds and ate expired salad dressing because the fridge was empty.
Neither experience was traumatic enough to warrant chronic fear, I don’t think. But does anxiety ever make sense?
Now I obsessively check expiration labels on cans and mold on fresh fruit, because throwing up frightens me so much. Talk about tiresome.
What does this weird mental tick have to do with wandering our beautiful world? Any traveler will tell you food borne illness is one of the most common “wanderlust” aliments. Which spells disaster for me.
See, I want to wander Peruvian rain forests, but I might puke all over the Inca ruins. I want to experience Angkor Wat at sunrise, but I might clutch my stomach and cry near those super cool trees with the windy roots. I want to overland throughout southern Africa and ride a horse in Mongolia, but what if bacteria makes me too sick to enjoy those precious travel moments? What if, what if, what if.
Right now I have been lucky enough to go to many places (check out my shiny new destinations page), yet I’m nervous about booking a ticket to certain countries, because the risk of food borne illness soars much, much, much higher. Although I have my Hepatitis A shot, it’s only a drop in the food poisoning bucket.
And I know me. I’d take so many precautions – no ice, no salad, no meats, no nothing – that I wouldn’t enjoy anything. Boo me.
What do I plan to do about my food poisoning anxiety?
I’m not too sure, honestly. As you can clearly tell, I need explore countries outside my Western comfort zone. Epic adventures are my true calling. I need to accomplish all my lifelong dreams, going on a safari in Tanzania and hiking national parks in Guatemala, while somehow protecting my tummy health.
So I suppose I’ll have to find a healthy balance of preparation and courage to make these trips happen in the near future. Bring it on, control issues. You’ve met your match.
What are YOUR biggest travel fears? How do you conquer them? Were you surprised by my greatest travel fear? Do you have any advice for me?